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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 25, 2011
Politics & Society
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New Right-Wing Party?
November 25, 2011   
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It is not exactly common practice in developed democracies for a political party, least of all the largest opposition party, to have two caucuses in parliament. In Poland, however, several days into the new parliamentary term and just a month after the general elections of Oct. 9, the opposition Law and Justice party (PiS) split into two groups.

Party members loyal to its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, a founding member of PiS and the prime minister of Poland in 2006-2007, formed what could be called a regular, traditional PiS caucus of 138 deputies and 30 senators. At the same time, 17 deputies and one senator supporting former PiS deputy chairman Zbigniew Ziobro—who has been expelled from the party—established their own caucus, called Solidarna Polska (Poland of Solidarity). At the same time, the latter declared they were still members of PiS. Just how they wanted to pursue their intention to break away while formally remaining members of their original party remains a mystery even to those who are no strangers to the many absurdities of Polish democracy.

This time, however, the absurdity was short-lived. The PiS authorities expelled all the rebels from the party, though giving them a few days to recant and return to the party fold. Ziobro himself, together with his closest associates— European Parliament members Jacek Kurski and Tadeusz Cymański—was given an opportunity to admit he was wrong, give up his post as PiS deputy chairman and accept Kaczyński’s authority. Several days went by. When Ziobro still refused to cave in, he was unceremoniously booted out of PiS. That allowed Kaczyński to fend off an internal conflict in his party, but PiS’s strength in the lower house was weakened.

Even though the Solidarna Polska rebels will be more likely to back the opposition than the ruling coalition of the Civic Platform (PO) and Polish People’s Party (PSL), the right-wing monolith that was PiS has started to crumble.

The question is whether a new party will be formed and whether Ziobro’s supporters will decide to openly confront their former party and its powerful leader. If so, what are their chances of becoming a significant new player in Polish politics?

Time is on their side, as the next election is not to be expected until at least three years from now. Local elections and elections to the European Parliament will be held in 2014 and the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015. Unless some political or economic disaster happens and this parliamentary term is cut short, which given the parliamentary arithmetic seems unlikely, Ziobro’s supporters will have three years to form a strong, alternative, right-wing party.
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